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Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban

Single-Use Plastic Carryout Bag Law Goes Into Effect November 1, 2018

Beginning November 1, all retailers are prohibited from providing customers with single-use plastic carryout bags. An Ordinance passed by the Hilton Head Island Town Council affects all grocery and convenience stores, restaurants and other retail establishments.

The goal behind the single-use plastic carryout bag law is to improve the Town's environment, our ocean and waterways, and to protect our marine life. Marine birds and sea turtles, for instance, mistake plastic bag pieces as food. Plastics can cause blockages in the animal's digestive tract and subsequently lead to death.

Under the new Ordinance, businesses are encouraged to make reusable bags available for sale or offer recyclable paper carryout bags for distribution. If you or an organization you are a member of hosts any event on Town property, you're prohibited from providing single-use plastic carryout bags at the function. As defined in the Ordinance, single-use plastic carryout bags include compostable and biodegradable bags but does not include reusable carryout bags. Reusable bags are made of cloth, other washable fabric or durable materials specifically designed and manufactured for multiple-use.

Bags exempt from the Ordinance include:

  • Laundry and dry-cleaning bags
  • Newspaper and door-hanger bags
  • Packages of bags intended for disposal of trash, pet waste or yard debris
  • Bags pharmacists or veterinarians use for prescriptions or medical necessities
  • Produce bags used for bulk items like candy and small hardware, unwrapped and frozen foods, baked goods, and flowers and potted plants
  • Any type of bags that shoppers bring to the store to carry away groceries and other items

Businesses that fail to comply may face penalties - a written warning at first, followed by fines of up $500 for repeated violations.

If you are unsure if the Ordinance applies to your business or need more information, please contact Sally Krebs email icon, Sustainable Practices Coordinator, at 843-341-4690 or Carolyn Grant email icon, Communications Director, at 843-341-4618.

View the Ordinance - Regulations and Requirements Relating to the Use of Single-Use Plastic Bags pdf icon